Algeria: Thirty Years On

Martin Evans looks at the aftermath of the struggle for Algerian independence from France.

Algeria is the eighth largest country in the world with a population of nearly 26 million. On July 5rd, 1962, it achieved independence from France after a long and bloody conflict which had lasted eight years and left a million Algerians dead.

The war against French colonialism was led by the National Liberation Front (FLN'). By 1962 the FLN had come to embody the spirit of the Algerian people in struggle, and in newly independent Algeria the FLN became an instant focus of myth and legend. The enormous prestige it enjoyed meant that few questioned the fact that the FLN was the only party allowed to operate. The FLN had defeated French colonialism, it was argued, now it represented the political force necessary to transform and modernise Algeria.

Thirty years later and the FLN has become a universal target of hatred amongst Algerians. At the general election in December 1991, the first of its kind in Algeria, the FLN could only manage a derisory sixteen seats out of 430. In a brutal manner this confirmed the complete marginalisation of the FLN on the Algerian political scene.

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